The Lesson Crashers Team: Our Sessions Won’t Bore You
Do you have a lesson you want to trash? Get it Crashed!!!
We are the Lesson Crashers!, a close-knit group of innovative Instructional Technology Coaches in the Northwest Independent School District located just north of Ft. Worth, Texas. We’re certainly a small department by the numbers, but we’ve completed some Herculean tasks this year.
One of the central concerns we identified at the beginning of this year was the challenge of getting teachers who are pressed for time actively incorporating technology in their classes. For students, we know using technology can absolutely transform their engagement, cause achievement to soar, and create interactions that would not be possible otherwise. For teachers, technology can reduce discipline issues, time spent grading, and the need to spoon feed students everything. We’re confident that most educators know these facts, but we are also aware that they may struggle with implementation despite the obvious benefits.
This year on our list of items to focus on, we decided the gap between what teachers want and what they have time to do should be addressed. We know how boring many trainings can be for some teachers. Most WON’T remember our rushed training sessions…however, they WILL remember that we either did or did not care enough for them to stop and dress up that training session in a fun and entertaining way. Making teachers laugh and enjoy each other’s company is the way to their heart!
Two of our coaches, Cara and Charles, had previously discussed what could be done in regard to the want vs. time issue at the high school level. In a true experience of epiphany (details here), Charles was watching Yard Crashers on the D.I.Y. Network and it all just came together.
The Yard Crashers T.V. show usually opens up with a professional contractor/T.V. show host walking into a hardware store looking for someone who is ready to change something in or around their homes. The host interviews a few homeowners and eventually determines the one that is ready to collaborate and carry a plan to fruition.
The inspirational elements of the show:
- Expert dedicates time to works on other’s dreams.
- Participants are already in an active “ready to work” mindset.
- Interplay of fixed goal established by homeowner and expert know-how shared by host.
- Homeowners get their house in order, invite friends to help in the upcoming project, and get their hands dirty as they work toward their dream.
- T.V. cameras are at the ready to glorify the epiphanies that will result as the project moves forward.
- Known and agreed upon schedule or end in mind.
- Known and agreed upon purpose of the transformation.
- It’s an event. It’s a celebration. It’s transparent for all to see.
We took this Crasher idea and applied it to educational technology integration! Like in the show, we collaborate with the teacher to completely blow up and reassemble their initial idea. In a way that could not be attainable for most teachers to do on their own, we all come together in a tour de force of intention, dedication, and collaboration.
Lesson Crashers seek out great teacher leaders who have identified an area of weakness. We work with those teachers within their time frame (it doesn’t require extra hours on the teacher’s part), work toward their goals (they remain the content experts, we just add tech swag), and offer a strong pedagogical framework to work within (student and teacher choice, focus on the outcome not on a particular tech tool, scaffold for all involved, etc.).
This bears emphasizing: Crashing is not a prescription for weak teachers! This is a program for self-reflective, courageous, confident teachers wanting a little help in an area they identify. The entire Crash event is a celebration of strengths, commitment to student achievement, and the recasting of Instructional Technology in education as a team effort from top to bottom.
At all times, we try to live up to the mantra “packaging matters”. We show our teachers that we care about them and their time by entertaining/engaging as we educate them. We want to see them laugh and smile in the same manner that we want our teachers planning for smiles and laughs in their classrooms. We want to make a production of the process because our teachers deserve it!
Crashing: An Abbreviated Explanation
Using Google Form we first create a form for teachers to submit their application. The first round is a simple process that requires teachers to submit only their name, describe the lesson to be crashed, what grade they teach, and how to contact them. We also ask that they read some fine print that details their role in the process. To keep this within the school day, we expect teachers to give up some of their planning periods to meet with the Crash team. Teachers also need to notify their principals that a crash may be occurring. Finally, everyone from top to bottom is asked to keep an open mind and be flexible if they are chosen.
This is a celebration brought to life. We are seeking each other out and should keep that atmosphere from beginning to end.
A Google Form is then emailed to all of our district campuses and circulated by administration. The Google Doc is also featured every so often in our very popular #NISDnov8 chat that is live from 8:30-9 pm C.S.T. every Tuesday.
As a team, we then choose the top five lessons that were submitted to us. Those teachers are notified and asked to create a short 2 minute video to illustrate why their lesson is the best one to Crash. We have received some very creative videos, but the ones that stand out feature campus participation which includes administrators, teachers and students.
When a teacher is chosen, only the campus administrators are notified. We begin brain storming what technology would work well with the lesson that was submitted. We also contact the principals to determine a date to “Crash” the teacher’s class. Depending on the availability of our high school media students, we show up with a student camera crew, iPads, iPhones, and any other device we can lay our hands on.
As you can see in our “T.V. Show”, we literally stand outside of the classroom in anticipation of the crash. When we actually Crash the room we bring bright yellow warning construction tape, hard hats, tools belts, a bullhorn, and our loudest voices. We literally Crash the class and usually scare the bejeezus out of everyone involved.
This is an event. This is a celebration of the teacher’s courage to invite us in. We are celebrating the teacher’s willingness to grow and challenge herself. It is a party that focuses on raising the rigor in the classroom via proper technology usage. It’s a celebration of the various layers of a school district intent on making learning fun and meaningful for teachers and students. The “Lesson Crashers” event is everything education should be.
After the crash, the hard work begins. The Crashers meet with the teacher several times to flesh out the lesson and add technological components. Choice is a big player in our lesson planning. If you give them clearly stated goal and allow them to figure out how to get to those goals, we believe that kids can reach those goals in a more authentic fashion.
Nearly everything is documented and stored away for the final video that our high school students put together. As we meet for the Crashing, we also take notes to discuss expectations and goals so that all aspects of the lesson planning is up to our standard. Before the final video is released we make sure the host teacher is ok with the way she and her students are portrayed.
Finally, we used the final cut of the video not only to celebrate the process of raising the standard for teachers and students in a transparent team centered environment, but also to excite the rest of the district for the next round of Crashing.
Since our initial Crash we have Crashed faculty meetings, done mini-crashes on various lessons, and even Crashed our own presentation at TCEA this year (yes, we Crashed ourselves J).
Can you imagine having dozens of teachers in your districts asking for you to help them increase rigor and technology use in their lessons?
Do you think this can’t happen in your district? Either invite us in…or…Make it happen! Video document your crash and send it to us and we’ll send you some genuine Lesson Crashers swag!
Please take these ideas, images, logos, and intentions to your district. If you’re a teacher, “Crash” a fellow teacher’s lesson during your PLC. If you’re an administrator, “Crash” your next faculty meeting. If you’re a Superintendent, “Crash” your next board meeting.
At any point in your journey, ask us for help! We seriously won’t mind helping at all. Our contact information is below.
As this is being written, we already have a “branch” in California and another possible one starting in St. Louis, Missouri.
Favorite Tech Tools: Doceri, Piktochart, Padlet, Aurasma, Google Everything, TimeToast, Smore, Canva, Sphere App For iPad and iPhone, and Screen Cast O Matic
Cara Carter – @CaraCater1
Ashley Chapman – @AshChapman3
Charles Cooper – @Thrasymachus
Rene Egle – @ReneEgle
Brittany Horn – @Brit_Horn
Kirsten Wilson – @TeachKiWi
Cara Carter – Ccarter@nisdtx.org
Ashley Chapman – Achapman@nisdtx.org
Charles Cooper – Ccooper@nisdtx.org
Rene Egel – Regle@nisdtx.org
Brittany Horn – Bhorn01@nisdtx.org
Kirsten Wilson – Kwilson01@nisdtx.org
Charles Cooper – www.thrasymakos.wordpress.com
Kirsten Wilson – www.teachkiwi.wordpress.com
Upcoming Projects: What else?! We’re in the midst of another Lesson Crash (apply here even if you’re out of the district) and getting ready for the May 3rd EdCampNOV8 in Roanoke, Tx!